A: In 2017, most Medicare beneficiaries can choose from a variety of plans from at least six insurance companies. The plans may have different provider networks, cover different drugs at different pharmacies, and can charge different monthly premiums, annual deductibles, and copayments or coinsurance for hospital and nursing home stays, and other services.  — Read Full Answer

In most instances, prescription drug coverage is included in Medicare Advantage plans, with the exception of the MSA plan. If you want to have prescription drug coverage and you’re choosing an HMO or PPO Medicare Advantage plan, it’s important to select a plan that includes prescription coverage (most of them do), because you can’t purchase stand-alone Medicare Part D (drug coverage) if you have an HMO or PPO Advantage plan. SNPs are required to cover prescriptions. PFFS plans sometimes cover prescriptions, but if you have one that doesn’t, you can supplement it with a Medicare Part D plan.
It’s up to you to determine which type of coverage is the right option. It’s important to read all of the details of each Medicare Advantage plan, including the fine print, and compare the different benefits, costs, and restrictions of each plan option available in your area. If you have a specific doctor or hospital that you want to use, be sure to check that they’re included in the network of the Medicare Advantage plan that you’re interested in.
The CBO projected that raising the age of Medicare eligibility would save $113 billion over 10 years after accounting for the necessary expansion of Medicaid and state health insurance exchange subsidies under health care reform, which are needed to help those who could not afford insurance purchase it.[133] The Kaiser Family Foundation found that raising the age of eligibility would save the federal government $5.7 billion a year, while raising costs for other payers. According to Kaiser, raising the age would cost $3.7 billion to 65- and 66-year-olds, $2.8 billion to other consumers whose premiums would rise as insurance pools absorbed more risk, $4.5 billion to employers offering insurance, and $0.7 billion to states expanding their Medicaid rolls. Ultimately Kaiser found that the plan would raise total social costs by more than twice the savings to the federal government.[134]
CMS and MedPAC now believe the "like beneficiary" calculations (those on A/B vs those on A/B/C) that have been used for a decade and that underlay many changes made by PPACA and subsequent regulations are not comparative and are misleading (see slide 8 of the January 12, 2017 MedPAC session on Medicare Advantage and other discussions on this subject since that time). That is because the calculations include the increasing number of people only on Part A (primarily because they did not "retire" at 65 given the higher Social Security full retirement age but did join Medicare Part A at 65 as recommended) whereas a "like" Medicare Part C beneficiary has to be on both Parts A and Part B. On an absolute basis, in 2015 Medicare spent 4% less on Medicare Advantage and other Part C beneficiaries per person than they did per person on Medicare beneficiaries under FFS Medicare.[9] In 2014 the difference in parity on an absolute basis was 2% less per person on Part C.[10] It appears from both points of view—per "like beneficiary" and absolutely—that the latest formula delivers the original cost-saving promise of Managed Medicare. But an absolute comparison is not totally accurate either.
The Annual Election Period (AEP) runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. You can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan at this time, and make other coverage changes. If you’re already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch plans, in most cases a good time to do so is during the Annual Election Period.  When you change Medicare plans during the Annual Election Period, your new coverage generally begins on January 1 of the following year.
If you wish to start comparing Medicare Advantage plans in Minnesota today, eHealth has a plan finder tool on this page that makes it easy to find plan options in your location. Simply enter your zip code to see available Medicare plan options; you can also enter your current prescription drugs to help narrow your search to Medicare plans that cover your medications.
As of 2014, Medicare paid about $7,721 annually per enrollee in Minnesota. That’s according to a standardized spending report from CMS, which eliminates spending differences that stem from strictly geographic differences in costs (eg, higher labor costs or overhead expenses in higher cost-of-living areas). The report only considers spending in Original Medicare, as opposed to Medicare Advantage.
Medicare beneficiaries in Minnesota have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan as an alternative way to get their Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, coverage. Also known as Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans are available through private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. All Medicare Advantage plans are required to provide at least the same level of coverage as Original Medicare, meaning you’ll get the same hospital and medical benefits of Part A and Part B through your Medicare Advantage plan. In addition, some Medicare Advantage plans may also offer additional benefits, such as routine dental, vision, hearing, or prescription drugs.
Individuals seeking to enroll in the Medi-Cal program must first visit the nearest Department of Social Services (DPSS) / County Welfare Department and apply for benefits. If eligibility is established, the beneficiary is advised to attend an on-site information session administered by Health Care Options - a California Department of Health Services private contractor - to learn about available health care choices.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("PPACA") of 2010 made a number of changes to the Medicare program. Several provisions of the law were designed to reduce the cost of Medicare. The most substantial provisions slowed the growth rate of payments to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities under Parts A of Medicare, through a variety of methods (e.g., arbitrary percentage cuts, penalties for readmissions).
Through 2016, these trigger points have never been reached and IPAB has not even been formed. However, in the 2016 Medicare Trustees Report, the actuaries estimate that the trigger points will be reached in 2016 or 2017 and that IPAB will affect Medicare spending for the first time in 2019 (meaning it will need to be formed and recommend its cuts in 2017).

If you live in the designated service area of the specific plan, and already have Part A and Part B, you may join a Medicare Advantage plan (note that there are some rural areas of the country where no Medicare Advantage plans are available). If you have union or employer-sponsored insurance, you may be able to add an Advantage plan, but be forewarned that in some cases you may lose your employer or union coverage when you enroll in an Advantage plan.
The PPACA instituted a number of measures to control Medicare fraud and abuse, such as longer oversight periods, provider screenings, stronger standards for certain providers, the creation of databases to share data between federal and state agencies, and stiffer penalties for violators. The law also created mechanisms, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to fund experiments to identify new payment and delivery models that could conceivably be expanded to reduce the cost of health care while improving quality.[87]
A: Original Medicare, also known as traditional Medicare, includes Part A and Part B. It allows beneficiaries to go to any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare, anywhere in the United States. Medicare will pay its share of the charge for each service it covers. You pay the rest, unless you have additional insurance that covers those costs. Original Medicare provides many health care services and supplies, but it doesn’t pay all your expenses. — Read Full Answer
Most Medicare Part B enrollees pay an insurance premium for this coverage; the standard Part B premium for 2013 through 2015 was $104.90 – $335.70 per month. The premium increased to over $120 a month in 2016 but only for those not on Social Security in 2015. A new income-based premium surtax schema has been in effect since 2007, wherein Part B premiums are higher for beneficiaries with incomes exceeding $85,000 for individuals or $170,000 for married couples. Depending on the extent to which beneficiary earnings exceed the base income, these higher Part B premiums are $139.90, $199.80, $259.70, or $319.70 for 2012, with the highest premium paid by individuals earning more than $214,000, or married couples earning more than $428,000.[49]

The PPACA instituted a number of measures to control Medicare fraud and abuse, such as longer oversight periods, provider screenings, stronger standards for certain providers, the creation of databases to share data between federal and state agencies, and stiffer penalties for violators. The law also created mechanisms, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to fund experiments to identify new payment and delivery models that could conceivably be expanded to reduce the cost of health care while improving quality.[87]

As of January 1, 2016, Medicare's unfunded obligation over the 75 year timeframe is $3.8 trillion for the Part A Trust Fund and $28.6 trillion for Part B. Over an infinite timeframe the combined unfunded liability for both programs combined is over $50 trillion, with the difference primarily in the Part B estimate.[85][89] These estimates assume that CMS will pay full benefits as currently specified over those periods though that would be contrary to current United States law. In addition, as discussed throughout each annual Trustees' report, "the Medicare projections shown could be substantially understated as a result of other potentially unsustainable elements of current law." For example, current law effectively provides no raises for doctors after 2025; that is unlikely to happen. It is impossible for actuaries to estimate unfunded liability other than assuming current law is followed (except relative to benefits as noted), the Trustees state "that actual long-range present values for (Part A) expenditures and (Part B/D) expenditures and revenues could exceed the amounts estimated by a substantial margin."
If you meet the requirements for both Medicare and Medicaid (aka, dual eligible or Medi-Medi) in Minnesota, you will automatically receive a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, as well as Extra Help from Social Security. If you qualify for Extra Help, the program will cover most of the costs of your prescriptions. Even if you qualify, the dual eligible option may not suit your needs. In this case, enroll in the prescription drug plan of your choice. If you receive Medicaid now, call your local Medicaid office for assistance with your dual eligible benefits.
The Democrats' plan means that after a life of hard work and sacrifice, seniors would no longer be able to depend on the benefits they were promised. By eliminating Medicare as a program for seniors, and outlawing the ability of Americans to enroll in private and employer-based plans, the Democratic plan would inevitably lead to the massive rationing of health care. Doctors and hospitals would be put out of business. Seniors would lose access to their favorite doctors. There would be long wait lines for appointments and procedures. Previously covered care would effectively be denied.
All four Parts of Medicare—A, B and C, and D—are administered by private companies under contract to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Almost all these companies are insurance companies, except for those that administer Medicare Advantage and other Part C plans. Most Medicare Advantage and other Part C plans are administered (CMS uses the term "sponsored") by integrated health delivery systems and non-profit charities under state laws, and/or under union or religious management.
Among those the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will now allow, if they’re deemed health-related: Adult day care programs. Home aides to help with activities of daily living, like bathing and dressing. Palliative care at home for some patients. Home safety devices and modifications like grab bars and wheelchair ramps. Transportation to medical appointments.
Some people don’t realize this and join Medicare Advantage plans without the help of an agent. Therefore they  don’t know about all of these rules. Sometimes they find themselves enrolled into a plan that their doctor doesn’t accept or that doesn’t include one of their medications. This happens most often in January after a person has used the Annual Election Period to join a Medicare Advantage plan.

Several measures serve as indicators of the long-term financial status of Medicare. These include total Medicare spending as a share of gross domestic product (GDP), the solvency of the Medicare HI trust fund, Medicare per-capita spending growth relative to inflation and per-capita GDP growth; general fund revenue as a share of total Medicare spending; and actuarial estimates of unfunded liability over the 75-year timeframe and the infinite horizon (netting expected premium/tax revenue against expected costs). The major issue in all these indicators is comparing any future projections against current law vs. what the actuaries expect to happen. For example, current law specifies that Part A payments to hospitals and skilled nursing facilities will be cut substantially after 2028 and that doctors will get no raises after 2025. The actuaries expect that the law will change to keep these events from happening.
Through 2016, these trigger points have never been reached and IPAB has not even been formed. However, in the 2016 Medicare Trustees Report, the actuaries estimate that the trigger points will be reached in 2016 or 2017 and that IPAB will affect Medicare spending for the first time in 2019 (meaning it will need to be formed and recommend its cuts in 2017).
Medicare Advantage offers health benefits for Medicare beneficiaries through private plans instead of through Original — or traditional — Medicare (the federal government’s fee-for-service program). These plans are one option for consumers who desire additional benefits beyond what Original Medicare offers, but are not considered a wise option by some consumers who are concerned that government spends more per enrollee on the private plans than it does on Original Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are available with no premium other than the cost of Part B, but they also have provider networks that are more limited than Original Medicare, and total out-of-pocket costs can be considerably higher than enrollees would pay if they had Original Medicare plus a Part D plan plus Medigap.
As an alternative to obtaining Original Medicare coverage directly from the government, you may want to consider Medicare Advantage (sometimes referred to as Medicare Part C) in Minnesota. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies that contract with CMS to provide all Original Medicare benefits except hospice care, which is paid by Medicare Part A. Many Medicare Advantage plans also include extra benefits such as routine dental and vision care.
Congress also attempted to reduce payments to public Part C Medicare health plans by aligning the rules that establish Part C plans' capitated fees more closely with the FFS paid for comparable care to "similar beneficiaries" under Parts A and B of Medicare. Primarily these reductions involved much discretion on the part of CMS and examples of what CMS did included effectively ending a Part C program Congress had previously initiated to increase the use of Part C in rural areas (the so-called Part C PFFS plan) and reducing over time a program that encouraged employers and unions to create their own Part C plans not available to the general Medicare beneficiary base (so-called Part C EGWP plans) by providing higher reimbursement. These two types of Part C plans had been identified by MedPAC as the programs that most negatively affected parity between the cost of Medicare beneficiaries on Parts A/B/C and the costs of beneficiaries not on Parts A/B/C. These efforts to reach parity have been more than successful. As of 2015, all beneficiaries on A/B/C cost 4% less per person than all beneficiaries not on A/B/C. But whether that is because the cost of the former decreased or the cost of the latter increased is not known.

On September 12, 2013, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new partnership with the State of Minnesota to test new ways of improving care for Medicare-Medicaid enrollees. Building on the state's Minnesota Senior Health Options (MSHO) program, CMS and Minnesota will work together to improve the beneficiary experience in health plans that maintain contracts with both CMS as Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans and with the state to deliver Medicaid services.   
If you have health coverage from your union or employer (current or former) when you become eligible for Medicare, you may automatically be enrolled in an MA Plan that they sponsor. You have the choice to stay with this plan, switch to Original Medicare, or enroll in a different MA Plan. Be aware that if you switch to Original Medicare or enroll in a different MA Plan, your employer or union could terminate or reduce your health benefits, the health benefits of your dependents, and any other benefits you get from your company. Talk to your employer/union and your plan before making changes to find out how your health benefits and other benefits may be affected.

Part B – After beneficiaries meet the yearly deductible of $183.00 for 2017, they will be required to pay a co-insurance of 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for all services covered by Part B with the exception of most lab services, which are covered at 100%—and outpatient mental health, which is currently (2010–2011) covered at 55% (45% copay). The copay for outpatient mental health, which started at 50%, is gradually decreasing over several years until it matches the 20% required for other services. They are also required to pay an excess charge of 15% for services rendered by physicians who do not accept assignment.
Robert M. Ball, a former commissioner of Social Security under President Kennedy in 1961 (and later under Johnson, and Nixon) defined the major obstacle to financing health insurance for the elderly: the high cost of care for the aged combined with the generally low incomes of retired people. Because retired older people use much more medical care than younger employed people, an insurance premium related to the risk for older people needed to be high, but if the high premium had to be paid after retirement, when incomes are low, it was an almost impossible burden for the average person. The only feasible approach, he said, was to finance health insurance in the same way as cash benefits for retirement, by contributions paid while at work, when the payments are least burdensome, with the protection furnished in retirement without further payment.[96] In the early 1960s relatively few of the elderly had health insurance, and what they had was usually inadequate. Insurers such as Blue Cross, which had originally applied the principle of community rating, faced competition from other commercial insurers that did not community rate, and so were forced to raise their rates for the elderly.[97]
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Part A Late Enrollment Penalty If you are not eligible for premium-free Part A, and you don't buy a premium-based Part A when you're first eligible, your monthly premium may go up 10%. You must pay the higher premium for twice the number of years you could have had Part A, but didn't sign-up. For example, if you were eligible for Part A for 2 years but didn't sign-up, you must pay the higher premium for 4 years. Usually, you don't have to pay a penalty if you meet certain conditions that allow you to sign up for Part A during a Special Enrollment Period.
Doctors and medical providers have two primary options for how to file a Medical claim. One way is through the Social Security office, and the other is to make a Medicare claim online in MN. Whoever is filing the form does not have to submit that information. The first is an itemized list of what the claim is being made for. The second is a letter explaining why the claim is being made in the first place. Lastly, the doctor or medical provider can include whatever evidence they believe supports the claim.
"Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare 2013" (PDF) lists Medicare Part D prescription health plans and the coverage for each. Also includes general information on Medicare prescription coverage. It is published by the Minnesota Board on Aging and distributed by the Senior LinkAge Line, 1-800-333-2433. The Senior LinkAge Line representatives assist people of all ages in looking for lower-priced prescriptions.
Your information and use of this site is governed by our updated Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. By entering your name and information above and clicking the Have an Agent Call Me button, you are consenting to receive calls or emails regarding your Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement Insurance, and Prescription Drug Plan options (at any phone number or email address you provide) from an eHealth representative or one of our licensed insurance agent business partners, and you agree such calls may use an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver messages even if you are on a government do-not-call registry. This agreement is not a condition of enrollment.
If you change your mind and want to switch back to Original Medicare in the future, you’ll be able to do so during the annual open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7) or the annual Medicare Advantage open enrollment period (January 1 to March 31, annually starting in 2019), and you’ll have an opportunity to also enroll in a Medicare D plan at that point, regardless of how long you’ve been enrolled in Medicare Advantage. But if you’ve been on the Medicare Advantage plan for more than a year, there is no requirement that Medigap plans be guaranteed issue for people switching back from Medicare Advantage to Original Medicare, so if you’ve got health conditions, it may be expensive or impossible to get another Medigap plan.
The Medicare-Choices email list is designed to help health insurance counselors, volunteers, attorneys, providers, consumers or other interested parties find resources, receive up-to-date information about Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, Medicare Advantage, Medical Assistance, Minnesota Long-term Care Partnership or other related public or private benefits.
This is only a summary of benefits describing the policies' most important features. The policy is the insurance contract. You must read the policy itself to understand all the rights and duties of both you and your insurance company. These policies may not fully cover all of your medical costs. Neither BCBSNC nor its agents are affiliated with Medicare. Plan A: BMS A, 12/17; Plan B: BMS B, 12/17; Plan C: BMS C, 12/17; Plan D: BMS D, 12/17; Plan F: BMS F, 12/17; Plan High-Ded F: BMS HDF, 12/17; Plan G: BMS G, 12/17; Plan K: BMS K, 12/17; Plan L: BMS L, 12/17; Plan M: BMS M, 12/17; Plan N: BMS N, 12/17. 
You’re eligible for Medicare if you’re age 65 or older, receiving disability benefits, or have certain conditions, like end-stage renal disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). You must be either a United States citizen or a legal permanent resident of at least five years. In some instances, you may not have to take any action in order to enroll. This may happen if you’re turning 65 and already receive Social Security benefits or Railroad Retirement Board benefits.
If you enroll in one right out of the gate at age 65, you need to be sure you want this coverage long-term. Your open enrollment window to get a Medigap plan with no health questions ends at 6 months past your Part B effective date. You might not be able to get a Medigap plan later if you have health conditions because applying for Medigap later will require you answer medical questions. You can be turned down for Medigap at that point if you are not healthy enough to qualify.
ACA provided bonus payments to plans with ratings of 4 (out of 5) stars or more. The Obama administration launched an $8.35 billion demonstration project in 2012 that increased the size of the bonus payments and increased the number of plans receiving bonus payments, providing bonus payments to the majority of Medicare Advantage plans.[6] According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) this demonstration project cost more than the previous 85 demonstration projects beginning in 1995 combined.[7]
No part of Medicare pays for all of a beneficiary's covered medical costs and many costs and services are not covered at all. The program contains premiums, deductibles and coinsurance, which the covered individual must pay out-of-pocket. A study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2008 found the Fee-for-Service Medicare benefit package was less generous than either the typical large employer preferred provider organization plan or the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Standard Option.[46] Some people may qualify to have other governmental programs (such as Medicaid) pay premiums and some or all of the costs associated with Medicare.
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